How to Thrive in a new work



Switching from the familiar to the unfamiliar can come with its challenges and at times some people find it slightly difficult to operate at their best in a new environment. This is partly because your focus is divided towards different priorities. When new doctors start their journey in the UK, they have to think about themselves, how they will settle into their new working environment and they also have to think about their families. In addition, getting acclimated to the new culture can be daunting.

In all of these, however, with the right support and personal attitude, you not only can survive, but you can also thrive as well. There are different ways in which different people adapt to their new reality, however, the following tips might come in handy for your progress.

  • Be prepared for culture shock. The impact of culture shock can often be more serious than people expect. Bear in mind that for most international medical graduates from Africa, Asia or the Carribean, the predominant culture in the UK is very different from that with which you are familiar. Some people have described feeling lost in their early stages of settling-in. You will quickly find out that people express their thoughts differently. For example, I had previously understood the sentence “I feel sick” to mean I am unwell. However, in UK parlance it means I’m having nausea. That is just one of the many differences with expressions you will come across. Being prepared for misunderstandings like these and being open-minded will help you to remember to ask questions and clarify issues whenever you are in doubt.

“Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.”

Meister Eckhart


  • Be teachable. Being teachable is one of the vital ingredients for thriving and also for earning the goodwill of the people with whom we work. People are always willing to assist the humble colleague who acknowledges the limits of their own ability. Conversely, there often appears to bea conspiracy against that individual who refuses to take correction or one who keeps to themselves and doesn’t ask any questions when faced with unclear situations. Being open to correction from both medical and non-medical colleagues will not only make you a safe doctor, but it will also make your transition as stress-free as possible.
  • Keep up-to-date. As a foreign graduate, it usually requires more effort in keeping up-to-date than anyone else. This is because, first, we often have to unlearn some of the irrelevant things we have picked up in the course of our careers and then we need to catch up with the ones we are unfamiliar with. Ensuring that you learn something new every day about medicine, your job, and your general environment will help you in building your confidence and will make you feel more at ease with yourself and with the system. 
  • Connect. As humans, we crave connection with other people as it is vital for our survival. In a familiar environment, connecting with other people can be a pretty easy thing to do. However, in an unfamiliar environment, it may require a little bit of effort. It is vitally important to seek out people with whom we share some commonality and with whom we can spend quality time out of the work environment. If you find yourself feeling isolated, do not be hesitant to seek out the company of other people because being connected is vital for maintaining one’s mental health.

In conclusion, I must say that this list is by no means exhaustive and I know you may already have some successful strategies which you apply yourself. The most important thing in all of this is that we remain sane and safe while we pursue our goals, irrespective of the path we tread.

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